Traditions are a huge deal in the Deep South. I’m not exactly sure why that is, other than the fact that Southerners tend to squat in the same place for such long periods of time. My uncle recently reminded me that my mother’s side of the family came to Georgia shortly after fighting in the Revolution. From the 1780’s to 2010 is a long time in the same general vicinity. It tends to make traditions stick.
I’ve always been the type that tries to cling to happy experiences. I have taken too many pictures, bought too many souvenirs. The End of anything used to make me sad. I cried at pre-school graduations.
Holidays turned into idols of Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart perfection. We had to have the same decorations, the same special dishes, the same parties, the same activities, the same gift-exchanges, the same routine, year after year. It turned from joy into burden.
As meaningful as traditions can be, I think there are times when God calls us to let them go with the winds of change. Nothing lasts forever down here. This world and everything in it are passing away.
Letting go of traditions means letting go of how I think things are supposed to be and opening myself up to receiving new gifts and joys. While remembering the happy times of the past with gratitude, I want to be able to embrace the new and unpredictable.
Living in a New Normal has expedited that process.
There have been greater changes in the life of our family than I ever could have imagined two Christmases ago. Life has been turned completely upside down. But even while grieving over what’s been lost, there has been much joy and laughter. And great hope.
We let go of many traditions this Christmas. It was much easier than I thought it could be. As much as possible, I tried to live by the adage, “If it brings you joy, do it. If not, don’t!” There were many things I didn’t do this year. But instead of feeling guilty, I felt free.
We actually allowed ourselves the freedom to fly: we flew away to New York for Christmas weekend. It was the Wolf’s turn to have Katherine, Jay, and James, so rather than sitting around missing them on Christmas morning, we decided to do something completely new for us. I even took a little Christmas tree in my suitcase!
As the Blind Boys of Alabama sing at the House of Blues in LA, “I didn’t come here looking for Jesus…I brought him with me!”
But He was already there.
Man-made traditions are not holy; He is.
And he will meet us wherever we are, wherever we go.
“Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
May this year be one of newness for us all.
Family and friends, I've posted a holiday album on Picasa: